We had the good fortune of connecting with Jenna Gumto and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jenna, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I decided to start my own business in 2020. I have been a part of the retail world for 30+ years and people always said they could see me doing my own thing. I never felt ready, until the small business I worked for closed and I was trying to figure out my next venture. There was a lot of time for reflection and self care during the year. I did a lot of soul searching and one day it hit me…I’m going to start an online shop and do pop ups around town. I knew I wanted to sell kid’s things, being that my previous job of 6 years was at a children’s boutique in South Park, called So Childish. I learned a lot there and once it closed, I saw the need for more kid’s retail in San Diego.
One day, I was flooded with ideas for the business. It was strange how it all came to me and I knew it was time to make a move. I started researching markets, connected with a longtime local artisan (from my previous job) and worked out terms for selling her sweet handmade items for kids. I put together and online store and all of the other necessary things to get everything going. It was a challenge, but a little trial and error led me to my first market in November, 2020. I attended the San Diego Made Holiday Market at Grossmont Center. At that point, I had all handmade items. It was fun and I felt like it was a success. I went back to do the Summer market in May, 2021 and it was also a good experience. San Diego Made is very organized and they were such a pleasure to work with. I decided to pivot the business after the market, as I wanted to expand to some of the other things I wanted to sell and not have to schlep tents and tables back and forth. I put it out into the universe that I needed an opportunity to come. One that allowed me to sell more items that I purchased at wholesale and that would allow a flexible schedule and a stationary space. My vision was to sell joyful, diverse and thoughtful products that felt special to me and my held true to my values. I look for sustainable, fair trade, inclusive, unique items and most are tied to some sort of social good. This focus reflects in the books I choose and I am always looking for new product that fits well with my aesthetic.
I came across an Instagram post a few weeks after the last market. It was asking for vendors to apply for an upcoming 23,000 sqft vendor marketplace that was going to launch in Liberty Station in June. I didn’t hesitate (which was a sign) and immediately asked about the specifics and when I could drop by to see the available spaces. I went the next day and by that evening, I made the decision to secure a space. It was quite the whirlwind to get it ready, but after 2 1/2 months, I can confidently say that being part of Sea Hive Station was one of the best decisions I’ve made for myself. If you haven’t been yet, please do yourself a favor and check it out. There are so many great vendors! My shop is now exclusively located within Sea Hive Station located at 2750 Dewey Rd. Ste. 103.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I would like to think that what sets my business apart from others is that I don’t just sell cute things that people will want to buy. I focus on items that have a positive message, are eco-friendly or spread joy to someone else. If I don’t love it, I won’t put it in my shop. I love items that are nostalgic for parents, taking them back to their own childhood. The t-shirts I carry are all to spread a little PMA (positive mental attitude), relate to something local to San Diego or have a unique vibe. When people step into my shop, I want them to feel good and smile. The books I carry are thought provoking, heart-warming or educational. I look for ones that speak to many families. I just want to be part of a kind world and contribute however I can. It has always been a natural state of being for me to be kind, considerate and compassionate. I hope my business reflects that and people feel that kind of energy when they are perusing the space.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would start by taking them to Sea Hive Station, because I want to show them my shop and the other great things that are offered there. I love going to Bali Hai for the view and a nice meal. Kindred is my favorite restaurant in San Diego. The food and cocktails are amazing, the vibe is like no other. Everyone needs a drive past Sunset Cliffs and La Jolla Cove. North Park and South Park are musts for shopping, having drinks, coffee or meals. We are lucky to have a place like Balboa Park, so I love taking people there and stopping at Panama 66 for some chill time. Of course, being in San Diego means a trip to a farmer’s market, hitting the beach, bay and maybe a little kayaking for a fun adventure. If you have kids, you have to check out the world famous San Diego Zoo, have lunch at Corvette Diner, hit up Belmont Park for a fun day and take a hike at Torrey Pines. There are so many great outdoor adventures to get into. Don’t forget one of the many great breweries we have here!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to shout out a few people who helped this vision come to fruition. My friend and former boss Leyla has always been a mentor and great friend to me. No matter what path I find myself on, she is always there. My husband is my biggest supporter and knows how to get me out of my comfort zone. He is always willing to listen, give me feedback and encourage me to push myself. Many of my friends continue to show support in some way or another, whether expressing it verbally, helping me get the space ready, showing up at events or shopping, telling people about my business and just showing excitement for my new venture. Thanks to Tanya McAnear from Bad Madge for always enlightening me with your words of wisdom. Big thanks to Leila and Tony Savage of Savage Realty for always believing in my vision and sharing it with others. Thank you to Brandon Hubbard from Inkredible Design for my cool sign! Hugs to all of my vendors who came through when I started to sweat getting product in such a rush. All of the great people at Sea Hive Station, including the amazing staff & vendors I have gotten to know. I am so happy to be part of such a cool shopping experience in San Diego.
Family photo: Anjelina Armenta Photography